Diamond and Jewelry News and Information

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Legends about Diamonds

Diamonds have been the subject of wonder and marvel since ancient times, mostly for their shining brilliance and tough surfaces. As with most of the world's natural wonders and formations, several different cultures have told and recorded a vast array of legends regarding diamonds. The first written testimony regarding diamonds was made by the Ancient Romans, referencing the diamond trade in another country. The word "diamond" is actually derived from the Greek word for "unconquerable."

Ancient Greeks and Romans thought of the diamonds as the tears of the Gods, or small bits of rubble from fallen stars. It was also told that the mythical being, Cupid, shot people with diamond-tipped arrows in order to make them fall in love with each other. When worn, diamonds were said to bring light into life, easing the burden of fears and worries. The Hindu people said that diamonds were born when lightning was dashed upon boulders. Some ancient Jewish cities used diamonds in trials. If the diamond brought before a person darkened and dulled, then the person was guilty.

If it glimmered more brilliantly, then the person was innocent. Unfortunately, the method doesn't apply to a non conflict diamond, as there is no way to recognize the origin of the jewel once it is cut and polished. All precious jewels, especially during the Renaissance and the Middle Ages, were considered to possess magical powers. People wore them as protective amulets and charms rather than glittery trinkets. It was believed that diamonds protected the wearer against demons and evil forces.

It is also said that they defended houses from storms, natural disasters, and the plague. They were also rumored to lighten the heart, ease mental disorders, and provide good luck. Diamonds were also extremely valuable to kings, who believed that sovereignty was their God-given right. Diamonds, most likely because of their shine and their hardness, were said to be blessed by God and given powers beyond human comprehension. Kings donned diamonds on their breastplates. Rich and upper class soldiers also owned diamonds, making them appear as formidable warriors to other warriors on the battlefield.

There was no such thing as "best value diamonds," as diamonds were acknowledged as expensive status symbols, and consumerism wasn't quite around in the same way during that day and age. Diamond powder is also a legendary method of assassination. Many of these stories might have been encouraged by the owners of diamond mines to discourage their laborers from stealing diamonds by swallowing them in the mines and regurgitating them upon returning home.

Sultan Bajazet of Turkey was rumored to have died of internal wounds after his son dumped copious amounts of diamond powder into his food. In 1532, it was thought that gems had magical healing properties, so Pope Clement VII was given several spoonfuls of crushed jewels by his doctors, including a generous amount of diamond powder. He died as well, though this might have been from the illness that they were originally attempting to cure

Friday, February 5, 2010

How to Recognize a Non Conflict Diamond

Many people are absolutely devastated when they learn about conflict diamonds. They think about their engagement ring, their glittery jewelry, and all of the diamonds that they have admired over the years. The brilliance of these pieces is diminished greatly by their bloody history. Diamonds that come from countries in a state of insurrection or rebellion are often obtained by violent and inhumane means.

Tyrant groups take over mines and the villages nearby, forcing villagers into slavery and intimidating their families with murder, rape, and amputation. They sell these diamonds to industrial country and use the money to buy weapons and fund illicit activities. However, there are many places around the world and some parts of Africa that mine clean diamonds through peaceful means. A large part of the money helps support the economy and some reconstruction. It is possible to get a jewelry piece made from a non conflict diamond from most major diamond retailers, if you know what to ask for.

However, there is no way to know for sure if a diamond is non conflict. Once the rock has been cut and polished, it is impossible to tell where it was mined. Thus, for a diamond to be "non conflict" certified, its mining, cutting, polishing, and shipping must be extensively recorded, regulated, and double checked. The jeweler that you go to should have a license and official paperwork in order to prove that the diamond did not come from a conflict area.

There are four questions you should ask the salesperson whenever you buy diamond jewelry. The salesperson should be able to answer these questions, as blood diamonds are a huge issue in the diamond industry, so everyone involved is fairly familiar with them in the same way that they are familiar with diamond quality issues, such as GIA diamond appraisals. If the salesperson cannot or does not answer any of these questions, then you should politely take your business elsewhere.

The first question is, "How can I know for sure that these are non conflict diamonds?" A guarantee from the store is not enough, if a diamond is non conflict then it will have gone through the Kimberly Process, and the salesperson should have some nice papers for you, with embellishments and special textures to prevent forgeries as best as possible. There also might be a certificate or something along those lines that indicate that they only sell non conflict diamonds. Several Canadian diamond retailers or retailers that sell Canadian diamonds will have this.

The second question is, "Do you know where the diamonds you sell come from?" Many countries in South Africa, such as Sierra Leone, Liberia, and The Democratic Republic of the Congo are known conflict areas, so diamonds from them are most likely to be blood diamonds. If you are extremely knowledgeable about blood diamonds, then you know that some areas of Africa actually have clean diamonds that are good for the local economy. However, if you aren't heavily researched, it might be best to stay clear away from the region.

It also helps to have your diamond certifications straightened out; for instance, GIA certified diamond rings are not necessarily non conflict diamonds. The third question you should ask is the retailer's policy in buying and selling blood diamonds. If you are dedicated to this cause, then you might want to only support jewelers who refuse any association with blood diamonds. The fourth request is to see a guarantee from their diamond suppliers that the rocks they sell are clean.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Famous and Valuable Diamonds Throughout History

The name "diamond" is a variation of the Greek word "adamas," meaning "invincible."

Some older famous diamonds include the following: the Kohinoor, weighing 106 carats, one of the crown jewels of Great Britain; the Regent or Pitt, weight 137 carats, belonging to France; the Orloff, which is mounted in the Russian imperial scepter, weighing 199 carats; the Florentine yellow diamond, which weighs 137 carats; the Star of the South, weighing 129 carats.

Large stones found in the late nineteenth century in South Africa included the following: the Victoria or Imperial, which weighed 468 carats when found, and 236 when cut. It was later recut to 190 carats, however. The Stewart weighed before and after cutting 296 and 123 carats, respectively. The Tiffany diamond, which is of a brilliant yellow color, weighed 287 carats before and 125 carats after cutting.

The Green Dresden diamond weighs 50 carats, and the blue Hope diamond 45. The Colenso diamond, presented to the British Museum in 1887 by John Ruskin, weighs 133 carats. The Excelsior diamond, found at Jagersfontein in 1093, weighted 650 carats and was renamed the Jubilee, weighing in at 245 carats.

The Culinan or Star of Africa diamond found at the Premier mine, Transvaal, was the largest stone ever found, weighing 3106 carats or about 22 ounces, and measured 4 by 2 ½ by 2 inches. This stone was presented to King Edward VII by the Transvaal Government and was cut into nine large stones and into 96 smaller brilliants, the largest two weighing 540 and 317 carats, respectively.

The largest African stone found in recent years, known as the Jonker diamond, was discovered by Jacobus Jonker in 1934 in stream gravels near the Premier mine. It weighed 726.25 carats when found but has since been cut. The Vargas diamond was discovered in Brazil in 1938, weighing about a ½ carat more than the Jonker.
Beginning in the late eighteenth century many experiments were made with the hope of synthesizing diamonds and many claims have been made for its synthesis. However it was not until 1955 that the General Electric Company made authenticated diamonds. The synthetic diamonds were small and not suitable for cutting into gems. However, they were produced in competition with small natural industrial diamonds.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Diamond-Buying Tips

Many people do not know what they are looking for when they set out to buy a piece of diamond jewelry, especially if it is their first time buying an engagement ring or a present for a loved one. It can be an overwhelming and intimidating process, going into retailers, looking at all of the different, delicate, expensive pieces. You've probably braced yourself to pay more than you want to, but you would like to avoid paying too much. The first thing is to remember not to buy a diamond simply because it looks like it costs much less than the other pieces in the store.

If the person you are buying the jewelry for has absolutely fallen in love with a piece that you and your family most certainly cannot afford, be firm. As the salesperson if there are any other pieces like it or research online, but don't spend money you don't have and can't get over a piece of jewelry. Be an intelligent shopper. There are hundreds of millions of beautiful pieces of diamond jewelry in the world, the one expensive one that appeals most at the time is neither the best nor the only on out there. You can keep it in mind as something to save up for, but practice discretion.

Just because it's a diamond doesn't mean it's valuable. In fact, much of the diamond's value simply comes from the demand and mystique associated with it. There are several extremely low-quality pieces of diamond jewelry that are advertised for twenty bucks and worth less than five. Similarly, just because something is advertised as "on sale," doesn't mean that it's the best price or the best diamond piece out there. Best value diamonds have an essential jewelry combination of quality and price, both of which should have equal influence in your decision.

Just because the store has a certificate for a certain loose diamond or piece of jewelry doesn't necessarily mean that it is high quality. Many official reports on a gemstone are written in such a way that only professional gemologists and dedicated gem collectors can understand what they mean. The certificate being presented to you can say that the diamond is the poorest quality that a diamond can be, or it can say that it is a beautiful example to diamonds everywhere. You wouldn't know though.

If you are trying to buy a piece of jewelry made with a non conflict diamond, keep in mind that while the diamond certificate is an extremely good indication as to the cleanliness, it is possible to bypass and forge such documents. The certificate is as much of a guarantee as you can get, but shipments of blood diamonds sometime slip into the shipments of non conflict diamonds. In addition, while the 4 C's (Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat Weight) are widely known and highly marketed, they are only a fraction of the variables that go into consideration when a diamond is being rated.

Don’t let the 4 C's be the deciding factor in your diamond purchase. When you are looking at the cut of the diamond, keep in mind that it should not be too shallow or too deep. The perfect diamond will be able to reflect all of the light that it is exposed to. Diamonds with a heavier carat weight are more expensive than those with a lighter weight, but you do not want to buy a diamond that is too low quality. GIA diamond rings and other diamond jewelry are generally a safe bet, but you should be sure that you understand the certification.

Clearer diamonds are also more expensive, since they are the most attractive and light travels through them better than a slightly cloudier diamond. Color is determined on a letter scale. Diamonds rated between D and F is considered to be colorless, between G and J is close to colorless, but not quite. Diamonds that are between K and N have slightly yellowish hues. T and Z are light yellow. This is because yellow is the most common color found in diamonds. Many diamonds that appear to be colorless actually have a slight yellow tint. "Fancy" colors, which are not slightly yellow, can include vivid yellows, blues, and pinks.